Sun Looking to AMD for 64-Bit

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-03-31 Print this article Print

Sun has no plans to support Linux or Solaris on Intel's Itanium systems, but it is evaluating AMD's upcoming Opteron processors.

Sun Microsystems Inc. has no plans to support Linux or Solaris on Intel Corp. Itanium systems, but the company is evaluating AMDs upcoming Opteron processors, Sun officials said on Monday. "We are not seeing or hearing anything from our customers and ISVs that indicates they want or need Itanium. But we are seeing interest for the upcoming Opteron processor family, essentially because it has 32-node compatibility, which Itanium doesnt," said John Loiacono, vice president of Suns operating platforms group. "They talk about compatibility mode, but everything weve seen so far and every ISV weve talked to about compatibility mode has said theres a huge overhead associated with that, its running at less than acceptable performance," he said.
In contrast, Sun has heard more about Opteron from its customers and ISV partners because of its compatibility. Opteron has 64-bit extensions but can still run all the software of the 32-bit family.
This has created an opportunity for Sun, since it would be able to have compatibility with existing mode application suites and operating systems, with only minor work necessary to get some 64-bit extensions, Loiacono said. Sun will shortly be announcing the expansion of its entry-level x86 server product lineup beyond the current LX 50 server announced last August. "You will see in the very near future a new class of one- and two-processor [Intel] Xeon- and Pentium 4-processor … hardware in the 2.5 to 3GHz range," said Loiacono. "The whole issue with the LX 50 was time-to-market, we rushed to market as fast as we could. But we didnt have a plan to sustain that. But we have now changed that and the plan is to sustain that by coming out with the next group of systems and then keep up to the four- to six-month cycles the x86 world has with the release of new hardware," he said. These next-generation client and server products would also be competitive with Dell Computer Corp. in terms of price and performance. "But we are not giving up on SPARC by investing in x86 hardware," Loiacono said. He also reiterated that Sun has changed its x86 strategy and will no longer be shipping its own customized Linux distribution. The company is in discussions with the top Linux vendors and will likely support between two and four of these. But its value-add and what sets it apart is its Project Orion on Linux, he said. Latest Sun News:
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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